Lycos anti-spam weapon melts away

Update: After days of negative publicity and criticism, the 'Make love not spam' application is no longer available. Lycos says it's just been too popular, and promises it will be back

The saga of the Lycos 'Make love not spam' screensaver took another twist on Friday morning when Lycos withdraw the controversial tool. Visitors to the Web site were presented with a graphic urging them to "stay tuned". Previously they could download the application and use it to send traffic to Web sites operated by spammers.

A Lycos spokesman explained that the screensaver had been temporarily pulled while the company deals with hosting and management issues. He said it had been downloaded by over 100,000 users, and added it was "too early to say" when it would be made available again.

Lycos has been heavily criticised for launching the 'Make love not spam' initiative, with experts accusing the company of acting irresponsibly.

"You can't break into a thief's house just because he breaks into yours. We don't support this or recommend this practice. Directing traffic is part of the degradation of the Internet we are trying to stop," said Steve Linford, director of non-profit anti-spam organisation Spamhaus.

Some ISPs appear to have taken matters into their own hands and blocked access to the site.

As reported yesterday, Lycos's tactics may have rebounded on the company. One of the Web sites Lycos targeted in its zombie army attack -- www.mortgage.info -- redirected traffic back to www.makelovenotspam.com, according to security company F-Secure. This means that Lycos could have unintentionally targeted its own Web site.

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